National Fishing Advisory Council

The National Fishing Advisory Council (NFAC) was established in 2018 to provide advice to the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, specific to the responsibility of the Australian Government, on emerging issues facing Australia’s commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishing sectors.

NFAC provides a valuable opportunity to provide information and advice from a cross-section of Australia’s seafood and fishing industries on contemporary issues affecting Australia’s commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers.

Terms of Reference


The National Fishing Advisory Council (the Council) will provide the Assistant Minister for Agriculture (or his/her delegate) with information and advice on fisheries issues, proposed legislation and policies. The Council’s aim is to provide timely information and advice from a cross-section of industry participants on contemporary national-level issues affecting the commercial, Indigenous and recreational fishing and aquaculture and seafood distribution industries particularly with regard to Commonwealth fisheries.

The Council will be convened by the Assistant Minister and will meet as required up to twice per year to meet expected deliverables.

The Council does not represent the sole mechanism for engagement and consultation with government on fisheries matters.

Expected deliverables

The Council will provide advice, specific to the responsibility of the Australian Government and of relevance to the Council’s membership, on:

  • emerging policy issues
  • investment, growth and sustainability initiatives
  • research and development and strategic priorities and
  • legislative approaches.

Role of the Assistant Minister

The Assistant Minister will attend meetings where possible and may appoint a proxy. Liaison will be through the Secretariat (Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment), unless otherwise advised.

The Assistant Minister has discretion to review and amend these Terms of Reference at any time.

Role of the chair

The chair will be independent and will be determined by the Assistant Minister. The chair will be responsible for:

  • presiding at all meetings and ensuring the business of the meeting proceeds effectively
  • ensuring each meeting has an effective agenda
  • developing a work plan with the help of the Secretariat
  • reporting to the Australian Government
  • coordinating a position on key issues and
  • media liaison where appropriate and in conjunction with the office of the Assistant Minister.

In instances that the chair is unavailable, meeting participants will decide on interim chairing arrangements.


In addition to the chair, there will be up to 14 members of the Council. Members will be chosen by the Assistant Minister for their expertise, understanding of fisheries issues, geographic representation and ability to consider the long-term interests of the industry.

Membership will be on a voluntary basis and does not create a relationship of employment or agency between participants and the Commonwealth. There is no remuneration for meeting attendance in any form. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (the department) may cover costs associated with travel and meeting logistics for some members. Assistance will be allocated on a needs basis.

Secretariat support

The department will provide secretariat support including:

  • liaising with the Assistant Minister, chair and participants to identify meeting dates
  • preparing and distributing meeting notices and agendas within agreed timeframes
  • recording and distributing a summary of each meeting within agreed timeframes and
  • travel arrangements for members where appropriate.

The department will, where appropriate, facilitate engagement on inter-jurisdictional issues with state and territory governments.

Expected lifespan

The Council will have an initial establishment period of two years with Secretariat support provided by the department. The department will review the performance of the forum and provide relevant advice to the Assistant Minister prior to the expiration of this period.

Meeting protocols

Confidentiality – Meetings and any information disseminated to the Council is confidential and confidentiality is expected to be maintained by all participants (including invited observers). This does not preclude members from discussing key matters with their constituents, however the confidentiality of deliberations during meetings should be maintained.

Conduct – Members will conduct themselves with respect and integrity, and respect the diversity of views of all participants.

Meeting frequency – The Council will meet up to twice a year (and where appropriate in conjunction with industry conferences and forums).

Agenda – Meeting agendas will be developed by the Secretariat in consultation with the chair and the Assistant Minister.

Meeting summary – The Secretariat will record and circulate a summary of the meeting.

Invited participants/observers - The Council may invite, on an ad hoc basis, observers and other stakeholders to participate in meetings where relevant. These may include other Australian Government ministers and departmental officers and technical experts.

NFAC Members

  • Professor Colin Buxton, Chair
  • Mr Brett Cleary
  • Ms Annie Jarrett
  • Mr Stan Lui
  • Ms Jo-anne McCrae
  • Mr Al McGlashan
  • Ms Leonie Noble
  • Ms Veronica Papacosta
  • Mr Mark Ryan
  • Ms Erica Starling
  • Ms Heidi Walker
  • Ms Katherine Winchester
  • Mr Jonas Woolford

Record of meetings

There have been four meetings of NFAC.

  • Meeting 1: 30 November 2018, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
  • Meeting 2: 6 March 2019, National Convention Centre, Canberra
  • Meeting 3: 5 April 2019, Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra
  • Meeting 4: 24 September 2019, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
  • Meeting 5: 19 May 2020, via teleconference


At the first meeting of the National Fishing Advisory Council (the Council), the Assistant Minister for Agriculture tasked the Council with identifying priority challenges and opportunities facing the seafood and fishing industries, and developing a plan for industry and government to address these priorities.

Seven priorities were identified:

  • Relationship building between commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishing sectors
  • Access to resources and resource sharing
  • Future proofing the industry, including through attracting workers to fishing
  • Social licence to operate
  • Developing a national approach to fisheries policy and management
  • Ensuring a consistent approach to valuation of each sector
  • Availability and transparency of information for use in management decisions.

Discussion on priorities

Through effective cross-sectoral collaboration, at the second and third meetings Council members worked through the identified priorities—better articulating the issues for each sector, identifying common ground and developing ideas for a cross-sectoral approach to addressing them.

This was achieved through a series of small group and large group discussions. Members were asked to describe the problem, and to identify the desired outcome, actions to achieve this outcome and potential risks or obstacles.

An outcome document was completed that outline the Council’s agreed positions on these priorities.

Where to from here

The outcome document is a source of information and advice to the Assistant Minister, from a cross-section of Australia’s seafood and fishing industries, on contemporary issues affecting Australia’s commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers.

The outcome document will also be a tool to assist the Council in future deliberations. These issues can be further examined and developed when working on strategies for the sectors as they work together to meet the challenges faced by the fishing and seafood sector as a whole.


For any enquiries about NFAC please contact the NFAC secretariat or by post at:

NFAC Secretariat, Fisheries Branch
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601

Last reviewed: 28 July 2020
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